Fla. man charged with assault for claiming to have COVID-19, coughing on deputy

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said anyone who threatens the health of deputies will face the 'maximum charges' allowed

C. Isaiah Smalls II
Miami Herald

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — A 23-year-old man was charged with a assault after claiming to have the novel coronavirus before coughing on a deputy, according to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

Christian Perez-Perez was arrested Sunday on several charges including driving under the influence, driving without a license and threatening a public servant.

Deputies say the 23-year-old was initially pulled over for reckless driving. Perez-Perez told the deputy that he had COVID-19 so the officer gave him a mask to cover his mouth.

At some point during their encounter, Perez-Perez removed the mask and intentionally coughed on the deputy, according to the sheriff’s office. The deputy somehow managed to put the mask back over his mouth.

As of Monday morning, Perez-Perez is being held in Martin County jail on $26,000 bond, deputies say. It’s unclear whether he actually had the coronavirus.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder issued the following statement after learning of this incident:

“We have zero tolerance for this despicable behavior, and anyone who threatens the health and lives of my deputies will face the maximum charges.”

Snyder’s mandate closely aligns with that of federal authorities. According to Politico, a top official in the U.S. Justice Department sent out a memo that stated the purposeful spread of the coronavirus should be viewed as an act of terrorism.

Perez-Perez is being held on $26,000 bond.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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